Although there are 40+ CDNs in a very competitive industry, no two CDNs are identical. When we look deep inside each CDN, their DNA is vastly different. Akamai, Verizon, Level 3, Netflix, Comcast, Telefonica, Limelight, Yottaa, ChinaCache, Instart Logic, MaxCDN, Rev Software, Highwinds, and everyone else is different; different culture, different talent, different infrastructure pieces, different feature make-up, different cities, different executive experience, and so on. However, if we tried to match two CDNs that are most alike, it would be CloudFlare vs CloudFront. They have some similarities and differences.
CloudFlare and CloudFront are the only two CDNs that have hundreds of thousands of CDN clients. No one else comes close. Both started catering to the lower end of the market, but CloudFlare has moved up the food chain quicker. Both have thousands of servers in deployment, and a large a global audience in the tens of thousands. CloudFlare works extremely well in the WordPress environment, and CloudFront works well in its own AWS ecosystem.
That’s where the similarities stop. CloudFlare does security, and does it well. CloudFront doesn’t have DDoS Mitigation scrubbing centers, yet. CloudFront does live streaming and cloud encoding, CloudFlare does neither. If we were to take all this data, and determine who is a bigger threat to who, it would seem that CloudFlare is a bigger threat to CloudFront, than the other way around.
CloudFlare is the Bigger Threat to CloudFront
With the passage of time, CloudFlare has become Amazon-like in some respects, especially in feature set innovation. Two good examples are the internally develop system that processes 4M log lines per second, and the global deployment of ModSecurity WAF, which required insane amounts of custom programming.
CloudFlare has been very open about its infrastructure, and has publicly announced its partners: bare-metal Quanta severs, SolarFlare NICs, Cumulus switches, Equinix data centers, Nginx, ModSecurity, and few other pieces. If CloudFlare goes public at a billion dollar valuation, they will have to find additional revenue streams outside of the CDN business. One option is to expand into the pure-play security market. The other option is to get into the bare-metal cloud business, and offer compute/storage to its global customer base. After all, CloudFlare can focus on selling it to its 2M+ customers. Is CloudFlare crazy enough to try the cloud compute business? Yes, because they’re insane.